Better information means better decisions, believes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who just announced the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to empower the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to limit the annual opioid production in the United States. This will be enabled by using the information available from the Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders (ARCOS) system, Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Medicare and Medicaid, and the states.
The proposed law, which is open to public comment for 15 days, was announced after an evaluation on the need for amending the existing regulations on the aggregate production quotas has been done by the DEA as asked by the Attorney General on March 1, 2018. The NPRM allows the DEA to identify the extent to which the pills manufactured are being diverted for misuse.
Allowing the administration to reduce the opioid production if it deems necessary, Sessions said, “Under the proposed rule, DEA’s opioid production limits would be more responsive to the risk of drug abuse by explicitly taking diversion into account.” He said it is a “common sense idea: the more a drug is diverted, the more its production should be limited.” He believed that the NPRM would allow DEA more information to help it “protect law-abiding Americans from the threat of drugs.”
DEA to share information with 48 Attorneys General
Meanwhile, in a separate but related development, the DEA reached an agreement with 48 Attorneys General – that of 46 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia – to share the prescription drug information amongst themselves to aid investigations. The DEA’s ARCOS system collects the reports of around 80 million transactions every year from manufacturers and distributors of prescription drugs.
“This partnership provides an unprecedented opportunity to use DEA and state resources and information to jointly combat pill diversion and trafficking,” said the agency’s Acting Administrator Robert Patterson.
Crackdown on opioid trafficking ring in West Virginia
As per a Reuters report published hours before Sessions’ announcement, the U.S. Justice Department launched a crackdown on “The Peterson Drug Trafficking Organization,” a major opioid trafficking ring operational in West Virginia. Mike Stuart, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, said, “Today’s actions have removed from our streets enough fentanyl to kill more than 250,000 people and massive amounts of other drugs that would have wreaked havoc and misery on our good citizens.”
Since the state of West Virginia is severely affected by the opioid epidemic, the state had prosecuted the DEA in December 2017 over drug quota rules and said that the agency sets incorrect manufacturing quotas purely on the basis of the amount that the manufacturers expect to sell instead of legitimate medical needs.
Need to curb opioid epidemic
Imposing these smarter limits is expected to strengthen the fight against the opioid epidemic and encourage stringent vigilance by the opioid manufacturers while ensuring that there are enough opioids available for medical, scientific, research and industrial purposes.
The federal bodies are already under the pressure to curb the opioid epidemic that has severely hit the nation. Even as the Trump administration has taken several steps to deal with the issue, not much has been attained so far. Therefore, it is time that stricter rules and policies are implemented across the country.
While these measures are being taken to check the drug menace, it is equally important to ensure addiction treatment for those already dependent on drugs. If a loved one is addicted to opioids or any other drugs, Sovereign Health can help through its network of state-of-the-art addiction drug rehabs.
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